With Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami gives us a novel every bit as ambitious and expansive as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which has been acclaimed both here and around the world for its uncommon ambition and achievement, and whose still-growing popularity suggests that it will be read and admired for decades to come.
This magnificent novel has a similarly extraordinary scope and the same capacity to amaze, entertain, and bewitch. A tour de force of metaphysical reality, it is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom. Their odyssey, as mysterious to them as it is to us, is enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerizing events. Cats and people carry on conversations, a ghostlike pimp employs a Hegel-quoting prostitute, a forest harbors soldiers apparently unaged since World War II, and rainstorms of fish (and worse) fall from the sky. There is a brutal murder, with the identity of both victim and perpetrator a riddle - yet this, along with everything else, is eventually answered, just as the entwined destinies of Kafka and Nakata are gradually revealed, with one escaping his fate entirely and the other given a fresh start on his own.
Extravagant in its accomplishment, Kafka on the Shore displays one of the world's truly great storytellers at the height of his powers.
©2005 Haruki Murakami (P)2013 Random House Audio
"As powerful as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.... Reading Murakami ... is a striking experience in consciousness expansion." (The Chicago Tribune)
"An insistently metaphysical mind-bender." (The New Yorker)
"If he has not achieved that status already, Haruki Murakami is on course to becoming the most widely read Japanese writer outside Japan, past or present." (The New York Times)
Doctor of misanthropy
If I've been propelled through life by a continuously variable transmission, reading Murakami is like moving to a stick shift. And this is certainly an prime example of that.
Murakami makes you shift your perspective. Nothing as trivial as alternate universes (although he did use those in 1Q84), but more of a radical shift in how you perceive and model reality. If there is such a thing.
Many of Murakami's books take you to places that just require you to relinquish all control of your rationality. This one's a bit easier on you, having more of a standard narrative. It's only in the deeper contemplation of the story that you tend to lose your footing.
This book is all about deep emotion, how emotion defies all logic and reason, and how it is at the very core of our existence. In this respect, it's a surprisingly uplifting and empowering book, which is, to me, pretty good for what may look like simple storytelling.
Very weird plot but charming in its way. I enjoyed this. I couldn't give 5 stars because it didn't blow me away. However, there is a philosophy lesson in every chapter and much of it reads like poetry. The ending was just okay but, in this book, it's really all about the journey.
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
and enthralling. A must experience from the Japanese Kakfa.Among his best work. Mature writing from an accomplished author
yogini, knitter, quilter, sewist, stitcher, reader, cook, foodie, wine snob, francophile, wife, dog mom, SF Giants fan
The readers were amazing and so perfectly captured the characters. They turned a great story into a transcendent experience.
So hard to say, but probably Nakata. Although he is supposed to be a simpleton, he has a particular genius for living the life he is given and being happy with what he has.
My favorite scene is when Miss Saiki tells Kafka he has to go back to the world to remember her.
Absolutely. This is a very philosophical and emotional story. I cried in all the right places and laughed out loud at its wry wit. Loved it. Will definitely listen again.
From the start, it pulled me in and was a great escape from ordinary life. Perplexing, great story, amazing performance.
There is no way I would have gone as deep into the story without the performance these guys put on.
The start was very intriguing, especially, the old man story and the fringe of reality and the other world. However, the story took a weak turn, and dragged and dragged and dragged about some confusing relationship story. Last 3rd of the story was just a burden to listen to, it could've been more exciting, but it became seriously boring... Now I wonder whether I should invest more time into books by this acclaimed author.
Surreal, Metaphorical, Beautifully written
Johnnie Walker, the cat killer, was my most memorable moment. The detail in the writing gives a horribly wonderful graphic account of a confusing and disturbing scene.
They are both wonderful narrators. They bring a clarity to the words and a shape and texture to the story that I could never get by reading it myself. Their narration was absolutely critical to my enjoyment of the book.
A Man who Talks to Cats
As has been my experience with other Murakami books, much of the symbolism and motif's were hard for me to grasp, which leaves me with many questions once the book is finished. As usual with Murakami, the reader doesn't necessarily get a tangible closure.
Good narrator. Hard to recommend this book for a couple reasons.
On the low ground: The story drags. Conflict resolution is about the quality of vending machine food. Some parts lack any feeling, while others are overbearing with emotions. Complete randomness and poor plot devices.
On the middle ground: There are some taboo moral and social ideals present that are not commonly approached in writing. Some parts are left void of detail for you to draw your own conclusions.
On the high ground: Back stories are executed with skill. There are some great tie-ins to philosophy and art that strengthen the story. There is a scattering of moments that feel genuinely life-like.
Overall, the misgivings of the story cause it to constantly toe the line between introspection and exhaustion. This book may simply not be my type and could be yours, but I believe I've given an honest opinion of it here.
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